Indexed on: 13 May '06Published on: 13 May '06Published in: Contact Dermatitis
Healthcare workers (HCW) have an increased risk of suffering from occupational skin diseases (OSDs). Therefore, we established special prevention and skin protection courses for HCW. Medical aims are to optimize diagnostic procedures and individual therapy, educational aims are to improve individual skin protection/skin care habits of the patient and also to influence the participants' attitudes towards health. Participants are patients that have been suspected to suffer from an OSD and are insured with the German Accident Prevention Insurance Association for Health Care Workers (BGW). Teaching units mainly focus on the texture and functioning of the skin, general aspects of OSDs, general information concerning skin protection, instructions about the correct use of skin cleansing and skin protection products. Besides, every participant is clinically examined by a dermatologist and a precise patient's history is obtained. Individually adapted skin protection strategies are developed. Patients can ask the dermatologist questions in confidence. 504 patients (mean age: 36.9 years, SD = 11.7) participated in the skin protection courses. 94.6% (n = 477) suffered from hand eczema frequently caused by a mixture of atopic, irritant and allergic contact dermatitis, but irritant contact dermatitis was the most frequent diagnosis (55.4%, n = 279). The participants rated the course as good to excellent. Health education and advisory services in occupational dermatology are still fragmentary. Prevention of OSD and maintenance of health through education are important complementary measures for dermatological care. In the future, similar educational programmes should be offered for employees of other professions with an increased risk for OSD.